Poetry / The English Teacher / The Social Network

Before the Meme: Poetry

What’s with all the cat memes? (I feel a bit Seinfeldian as I ask that.) Why the fascination with the furry felines? You can follow “Grumpy Cat” on Twitter. I admit, I followed this grouch for a minute or two, but I grew tired of his downcast whiskers. You can ‘like’ Henri, le Chat Noir (he’s a black cat 🙂 ) on Facebook. He’s “filled with ennui,” which means he’s uppity, and his outlook is maximum cynicism, all the time. (and sometimes he’s funny)

Cats. Boards and boards and boards devoted to them on Pinterest.

Cats. I actually wish I were making this up, but whole websites are devoted to cats.

It seems cats have taken over social media — or at least define it.

(Honestly, I kind of love that one)

Here’s the thing: None of this cat craze is new. Long before Henri and Grumpy, great poets were writing about cats. T.S. Eliot devoted an entire book to them. “Macavity: The Mystery Cat” is my favorite. Incidentally, an entire broadway musical is based on the ‘Practical Cats,’ proving once again the power of the most contrary animal in the history of animals.

Yeats, Cowper, Wordsworth, De la Mare — seriously great poets have penned lines about felines. Take a look here.

Then, instead of writing directly about a cat and ruining everything, Carl Sandburg wrote about fog. And a cat shows up:


The fog comes
on little cat feet.


It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.
Fog, like cats, comes upon us with stealth. It goes where it will, stays only as long as it’s convenient, blankets everything with its presence, and then ‘moves on.’
Cats. They explain so much, really.

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